If you have been walking with the Lord long enough, you’ll recall times when He has seemed distant from you. Perhaps you’re in one of those periods now; you can remember a time when your load was light, your burden was easy, and your heart beat for nothing smaller than Jesus. But today you find yourself in something of a spiritual wasteland . . . just like Job. God seemed utterly silent and far away, and Job ached for a bygone time. He told his friends:
How l long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house.
If you are familiar with the book of Job, you know about the terrible tragedies he endured. And here we see him doing something entirely natural and human: he longed for the “good ol’ days,” when his intimacy with God was the anchor of his soul. But now, after so much suffering, it seemed to Job that God was a stranger and heaven’s door was shut tightly. Because we know the whole story, we know that Job did not bring these difficulties on himself because of any unrighteous behavior. But today you and I often find ourselves longing for the good ol’ days because we have been bad today!
Now, “bad” has many different shades. Sometimes we simply neglect the wonderful means of grace God has given to us that bring us into the presence of God in a very special way. Missing church, neglecting prayer, and inconsistent Bible study will always leave us feeling empty, wanting, and longing for that feeling we once had when we were diligent and disciplined in our spiritual disciplines. For some, it is simply a matter of idolatry; we have removed Jesus from the throne of our lives and something smaller than Him sits upon it.
The prophet Jeremiah hit the proverbial nail squarely on the head.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
One minute our heart is beating for Jesus; the next, it is beating for a thousand others things. We are in a constant battle with divided affections. As Paul wrote to the Galatians:
The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Spiritual pride will also give us a sense of separation from the presence of our God. Self-love always casts a shadow over our Savior. To be sure, Jesus is as bright as ever, but our pride has made our spiritual eyes grow dim.
Whatever the cause for our divided affections, God will eventually step in and give us what we need to reorient our hearts back toward Him. Often He will give us a glimpse of the good ol’ days to make us feel “homesick” and help us get our lives back on track.
If you currently find yourself in this condition, what should you do? Don’t be satisfied with recalling the good ol’ days! Run to Jesus and seek His face, knowing that He has never left your side. Remember that when God feels distant, we can be sure of one thing: WE moved, not our God! So cry out to Jesus, and know that no matter how good those ol’ days might have been, the best is yet to come. For . . .
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!